In anticipation of potential criminal charges from the Department of Justice (DOJ) relating to the events of January 6, 2021, attorney’s for former President Donald Trump have begun exploring possible defense strategies and defenses, according to multiple sources and written communications.
Citing three people familiar with the matter and internal communications reviewed by Rolling Stone, Trump’s legal team boosted its brainstorming efforts following the dubious testimony of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan. 6 Committee in June. Trump himself has reportedly been briefed twice on possible legal defenses.
“Members of the Trump legal team are quietly preparing, in the event charges are brought,” says one anonymous source. “It would be career malpractice not to. Do the [former] president’s attorneys believe everything Cassidy said? No. … Do they think the Department of Justice would be wise to charge him? No. But we’ve gotten to a point where if you don’t think criminal charges are at least somewhat likely, you are not serving the [former] president’s best interests.”
While no official Trump representatives would return Rolling Stone’s calls, the anonymous sources claim Trump is looking for a fall guy or two among his advisors to blame for Jan. 6.
One possible patsy, suggests Rolling Stone, is attorney John Eastman, who presented a legal argument to Trump for overturning the 2020 election. Other possibilities, the publication speculates, are Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell.
“Trump got some terrible advice from attorneys who, some people would argue, should have or must have known better,” says one of the sources. “An ‘advice of counsel’ defense would be a big one.”
The First Amendment’s protection of free speech and the right to protest may provide other defenses for Trump.
Garland caves: DOJ investigating Trump’s actions on Jan 6 as part of a CRIMINAL probe https://t.co/1iwYBCkJNo
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) July 27, 2022
As part of a larger criminal probe into Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the highly-contested results of the 2020 election, prosecutors have turned to the top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence to discuss conversations they may have had about the matter with Trump, his lawyers, and members of his inner circle, according to more anonymous sources who spoke to The Washington Post.
The phone records of top Trump administration officials, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been turned over to the DOJ, the sources say.
And, while anonymous sources seem to be crawling out of the woodwork to talk to members of the left-leaning media about potentially possible criminal charges, Rolling Stone says the top members of Trump’s team don’t believe Attorney General Merrick Garland would actually be willing to file charges against Donald Trump.
“Biden’s pick for attorney general has been long regarded as a consummate institutionalist,” Rolling Stone states, “wary of the unintended consequences or precedents that could come from criminally charging a former president.”
If charges are filed, says the outlet, it “would mark the first time in American history that a former president has been prosecuted for crimes committed in office.”
And with a distinct lack of legal precedent for such a prosecution, constitutional challenges to any criminal charges against Trump for actions he took while in office would likely wind up before the Supreme Court.
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